Sphecodina abbottii
sfeck-oh-DEE-nuhmmAGH-but-ee-eye
The Abbott's Sphinx

Sphecodina abbottii, Jasper County, South Carolina,
April 22, 2006, courtesy of Dr. Wasil Khan.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at oehlkew@islandtelecom.com
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.

TAXONOMY:

Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Macroglossini, Harris, 1839
Genus: Sphecodina Blanchard, 1840 ...........
Species: abbottii Swainson, (1821)

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Sphecodina abbottii courtesy of James Adams.

DISTRIBUTION:

The Abbott's Sphinx, Sphecodina abbottii (Wing span: 2 - 2 3/4 inches (5.1 - 7 cm)), flies in woodlands in Georgia (specimen type locality) and from southern Canada (Ontario) throughout the eastern half of the United States: Northern Florida, Mississippi, and Texas north to Nebraska. I still have a specimen taken in Pottersville, New Jersey, close to forty years ago.

Sphecodina abbottii, June 7, 2004, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Adults are said to mimic bumblebees and make a buzzing sound when feeding. The wing margins are scalloped. The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with light brown bands and markings. The upperside of the hindwing is yellow with a wide black outer margin.

Bryon Peterson, Bardstown, Kentucky, confirms (image below) presence of Sphecodina abbottii although that species is/was not on USGS Kentucky list on Opler's site.

John Snyder confirms numerous specimens in three collections from Charleston Co., Pickens Co., and Greenville Co., South Carolina.

Harry Dale King confirms Sphecodina abbottii from Michigan with beautiful recto and verso images of a spread specimen.

FLIGHT TIMES:

Sphecodina abbottii adults fly as a single brood in more northerly portions of their range from May-June. There are at least two flights from February-August in Louisiana.

Adults begin flying at dusk and nectar from flowers, including honeysuckle (Lonicera), lilac (Syringa vulgaris), and Viburnum.

Sphecodina abbottii verso, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

ECLOSION:

Pupae probably wiggle to surface from subterranean chambers just prior to eclosion.

SCENTING AND MATING:

Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen.


Sphecodina abbottii, Pointe Cliare, Quebec,
May 18, 2011, courtesy of Sylvain Miller

Sylvain Miller writes, "I would like to confirm the identification of these moths (above). Are they Sphecodina abbottii?

The first adult arrived on my fence May 17, 2010. On the morning of May 18, I saw the second one mating.

I reply, "Very nice picture of Sphecodina abbottii pairing. I request permission to post photo, credited to you. The female, first one, would have pupated underground somewhere near the fence. When she emerged, she climbed up the fence and that night, via a pheromone, called in the male and they paired. Female is upper moth. Male is lower moth."

I think Sphecodina abbottii must be a very common species in Quebec, as I am often sent images of larvae and adult moths of that species for identification purposes.

EGGS, LARVAE, PUPAE:

Larvae feed at night on grape (Vitis) and ampelopsis (Ampelopsis) and hide on the bark of their host plants during the day.

This one was spotted on Virginia Creeper in early August in Quebec.

In Florida larvae have been reported on poison ivy.

Sphecodina abbottii larva courtesy of Alan Marson.

Alan reports that he had only two of the banded colour form out of about forty larvae that he reared.

Larvae show different forms and fourth instar is dramatrically different from fifth instar as per this image courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphecodina abbottii fourth instar, Gibraltar, Door County, Wisconsin,
July 21, 2002, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Janice remarked that, right after shedding its skin to become the more typical fifth instar brown form, the larva turned around and ate all of its discarded fourth instar skin.

Mature larvae pupate and overwinter in shallow underground burrows.

Visit Sphecodina abbottii to see a beautiful image of a larva (green marked form), Sherleen Smithson.

Visit Sphecodina abbottii to see beautiful images of a larva (dark form), Steven Scholom via Anna Mulligan.

Visit Sphecodina abbottii, Londonderry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, May 26, 2006, courtesy of Deb Lievens.

Visit Sphecodina abbottii, Searcy County, Arkansas, March 23, 2012, Marvin Smith.

Carolyn A. Ernest confirms Sphecodina abbottii for Brunswick, Maine, with a larva sighting on August 18, 2003.

Phil Stack from Hampden, Maine, reports a Sphecodina abbottii larva sighting, August 4, 2005.

Peter Hare confirms Sphecodina abbottii from Waterloo, Ontario, with a larva sighting July 4, 2005.

Tom Bailey confirms Sphecodina abbottii with moth image from Pocahontas County, West Virginia, summer 2005.

Mike and Katya Epstein confirm Sphecodina abbottii from Plateau district of Montreal, Quebec, May 27, 2006.

Sphecodina abbottii, North Olmsted, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, fourth - fifth instar, July 14-16, 2009, Alex Bonet

Visit Sphecodina abbottii adult moth, Athol, Worcester County, Massachusetts, June 1, 2011, Dave Small.

Visit Sphecodina abbottii (dark form) larva, Kenora, Ontario, July 18, 2014, Irma and Greg Gerhmann

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